It's good for the entire Tampa Bay region that the Pinellas County Tourist Development Council has signaled an interest in helping Tampa International Airport attract more direct flights to international cities. The airport is a regional asset that all local governments and businesses have an interest in seeing succeed.
New TIA chief executive Joe Lopano visited the tourism council to lay out his strategy to attract more direct international flights to the airport — addressing a shortcoming that surely dampens the region's economic activity. Only 24 flights a week bring international tourists directly to TIA to enjoy Pinellas County beaches or visit the Dalí Museum. That's a paltry sum compared to 199 at Orlando's two airports and 1,300 at Miami International. The same hurdles face business travelers.
Lopano didn't walk away with a guarantee, but council members signaled they would be willing to spend at least some of their $250,000 airline marketing budget on TIA's efforts.
That spirit of cooperation is refreshing in a region that too often succumbs to parochial interests. It's also smart fiscal strategy. Pinellas tourism officials and Lopano are setting the right tone for a brighter future.